In America, we do not want to be saved without an act on our part, an adjustment to Grace

The facebook posting started:

“I’ve seen a few Bible verses “thrown around” recently to justify some of the reasons democrats believe in the gigantic entitlement system we have in place today that continues to grow. I’d just like to offer a few to support the republican views of helping people become empowered to care for themselves and why it is important to their salvation.

2 Thessalonians 3: 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

1 Timothy 5:8  Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever

Proverbs  10:4Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.

One of the comments read as follows:

These are great verses. Isn’t it amazing how some quote the parts of the Bible to suit their agenda but unfortunately don’t read the verses that require responsibility and accountability. Great points.

I asked for a clarification, a thesis, on the topic of how being empowered to take care of oneself is important to salvation. What I got was a retraction of that statement.

What remained in my mind is something I have considered for a very long time:

there is something in our American nature that requires that we do something for our salvation. 

It cannot be free, so the original posting made sense in relation to how we see ourselves—we honor those self-reliant individuals who, disregarding all advice and assistance, make their own way in the world.  Sinatra sang about it and John Wayne filled a career of movies using this premise.

At this point, many will say I am not stating their beliefs correctly, which is that we are saved by Grace, God’s unmerited favor, accompanied by their citing one or another Bible verse to support this, usually from Paul, like, Ephesians 2: 8 – 10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

And if that were it, I would have no issue with this belief.  But, those that say it do not believe it. 

Well, a few do, and I will get to them in a bit, but the vast majority of “Born Again” Christians do not believe it, no matter how ardently they say it.

You see, if you are not required to do anything, if God can save you without some action on your part, then free will is gone and your eternal fate is not in your hands. That this is not an American belief cannot be questioned. typical explanations of the working of grace is as follows:

God is supreme, and no one can force God to save them by any means (works) at all. As a result, salvation will always remain free gift of God. That said, unless God first calls one to him through his grace, and one chooses to cooperate with that grace, salvation is unlikely.

Yes, the gift is free, but you have to accept it. At the very least you have to say the prayer—the Sinner’s Prayer— accepting Christ into your heart and agreeing that it is He who saves.

The odd thing is that those who will say this type of thing are the very people who will tell you that the Bible is inerrant, needs no theological knowledge to understand and has no contradictions.

The great theologian of the New Testament was Paul. And if his words are not plain enough—an honest reading of Romans screams of The Elect, those choe by God, as being those who are saved—knowledge of his conversion should inform that reading. (By the way, the twist necessary to get rid of election in Romans is that Paul was talking to the elect and that the elect are those who accept Christ.)

Paul—then known as Saul—was an extremely successful Pharisee, probably one of the leading Pharisees.  And while most Christians use the word “Pharisee” as an epithet, they were the religious leaders of their time, the protectors of the faith. Saul was a respected man, undeniably devout. The one thing he did not want was to be blinded by the light of God and forced to change his life.

When you read his conversion stories—the Road to Damascus Stories—honestly, you will see this is true. God grabbed Paul by the scruff of his neck and forced a change in him,  a force so impossibly strong and a change so radical that he had no choice but to go and tell the world, to craft a religion around some of the teachings of Christ, filling in the rough edges as necessary with his own brand of Bondo. to make it palatable to non Jews.  Had he not done this, Christianity would have been nothing more than an extreme sect of Judaism and would not have attracted the following it did.

The Born Again crowd will say that Paul had to accept the changes.  Yeah.  Pick up an ant in your hand.  You can crush it without thought or even any real effort on your part.  The ant has no say in things. If God is all-powerful and he picks you to do something, his desires will overpower you and essentially remove from you your freedom of action.

 Paul had no choice.  He was God’s instrument only—he says this plainly—producing the effect God wanted, much like a well-played French horn produces the sound a musician wishes.

Paul wrote that we are saved solely by an act of God.  What is odd is that many will say that God reached into their hearts and against their desires, changed and saved them and still believe you have to say the Sinner’s Prayer to be saved. 

We are just that American.  We just have to have some hand in our successes.

There are a significant portion of Christians that believe in election, adhering to what may be called the 5 points of Calvinism:

  1. Total depravity (Original Sin)
  2. Unconditional election (God’s Election)
  3. Limited atonement (Particular Redemption)
  4. Irresistible grace (Effectual Calling)
  5. Perseverance of the Saints

Churches with this general belief in some form or another are Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed Baptist and more.

I believe strongly that Paul wrote what he meant: we are saved solely, if at all, by the will of God, which overpowers and cannot be avoided.

Thos who know me or have read much of my writing on religion know I believe in total and unconditional universal salvation.  I believe this is consistent with Paul and the rest of the Bible. The discussion of this belief is to be found in places other than this article.

For a little thought, the following table (clipped from HERE) summarizes the classical views of three Protestant beliefs about salvation.

Topic

Calvinism

Lutheranism

Arminianism

Human will

Total Depravity without free will permanently due to divine sovereignty

Total Depravity without free will until spiritual regeneration

Depravity does not prevent free will

Election

Unconditional election to salvation with those outside the elect foreordained to damnation (double-predestination)[45]

Unconditional predestination to salvation for the elect

Conditional election in view of foreseen faith or unbelief

Justification

Justification is limited to those predestined to salvation, completed at Christ’s death

Justification of all people, completed at Christ’s death.

Justification made possible for all through Christ’s death, but only completed upon choosing faith in Jesus

Conversion

Monergistic, through the inner calling of the Holy Spirit, irresistible

Monergistic, through the means of grace, resistible

Synergistic, resistible due to the common grace of free will

Preservation and apostasy

Perseverance of the saints: the eternally elect in Christ will necessarily persevere in faith

Falling away is possible, but God gives assurance of preservation.

Preservation is conditional upon continued faith in Christ; with the possibility of a final apostasy.

4 thoughts on “In America, we do not want to be saved without an act on our part, an adjustment to Grace

    1. Submitted on 2012/09/14 at 11:50 am | In reply to In America, we do not want to be saved without an act on our part … | Christian Dailys.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog

      The way you excerpted my piece makes it look like it says something completely different than what it does in fact say. It does not say that a few are throwing around bible verses to support the entitlement programs in this country, but I cannot help being taken out of context. I only hope people will go and read what I actually said. It is an article about salvation and the “few” I am speaking of believe in election.

      If you did not mean to make it sound like I think your excerpt sounds, I apologize. Running this comment will be sufficient to indicate this. Or, you could change the excerpt. Otherwise, I only hope people seeing your excerpt will go and read my piece

      Thanks

  1. I did take my time to read your entire post so I hope I have not misunderstood anything. You’ve stated “… unconditional universal salvation. I believe this is consistent with Paul and the rest of the Bible.” — Paul/Saul writes against homosexuality (while condoning slavery by the way). It seems that would contradict ‘unconditional universal salvation’ because it would imply that if you’re gay, you’re going to hell. But I’ve never felt that the collection of writings included in the Christian Bible spoke of unconditional salvation. (If I haven’t misunderstood you, I can certainly agree to disagree. You have some interesting posts.) Personally I don’t believe salvation is necessary, I don’t believe in original sin. My view is anything but mainstream.

    1. I also do not believe in original sin. Paul’s issues with homosexuality are not in the case of singling them out as worse than other things, if I know what you are referring to. I do not limit my beliefs to the set of agreed-upon books that were agreed-upon for orthodoxy and politics. If we have eternal souls, I tend to think more along the lines of what Richard Bach wrote of in Illusions. . .

      I enjoy your comments.

      Thanks for continuing to come by

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